Montana Issues Blanket Ban of TikTok

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte | Image by Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, Twitter

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed a groundbreaking bill into law on Wednesday that makes it illegal for the popular social media platform TikTok to operate in the state.

“To protect Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I have banned TikTok in Montana,” the governor tweeted on May 17.

Last month Montana lawmakers passed a GOP-supported bill issuing a statewide ban on TikTok that would go into effect in January 2024. It slaps any platform that makes the Chinese-owned video-streaming app available to state residents with penalties of up to $10,000 a day. Individual users will not be subject to penalties.

Now entered into law by the governor, the ban seeks to address concerns over national security and user data privacy, according to NBC 5.

Proponents of the measure argued that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, operating under Chinese law, could potentially access and exploit user data for state intelligence work or spread pro-Beijing propaganda.

These same concerns have led to several government entities banning the use of the app on official devices, as The Dallas Express reported.

Although a bill introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) to issue a nationwide ban on TikTok was ultimately blocked in Senate, the Biden administration has been pressuring ByteDance to pass its ownership stake to a U.S. business.

TikTok users and the company itself are expected to legally challenge the new ban in Montana. Jamal Brown, a TikTok spokesperson, reported that approximately 200,000 people and 6,000 businesses use the video-sharing platform, according to NBC 5.

Another TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter suggested that the ban censors Montanans.

“We will continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this egregious government overreach,” argued Oberwetter, according to Wyoming Public Radio.

Oberwetter also questioned the feasibility of the ban, noting that the lawmakers themselves don’t seem to have a plan for how to enforce it.

Cybersecurity experts are also unsure about the effectiveness of the ban, according to NBC 5.

Industry trade group TechNet has claimed that app stores lack the technical capability to prevent app downloads in specific states. They placed responsibility for implementing a localized ban on the app developers themselves.

Similarly, internet service providers cannot enforce such regulations, and the Montana law excludes them from responsibility after hearing testimony from an AT&T lobbyist earlier this year.

By and large, any possibility of enacting a geographically specific ban on TikTok can be eroded by the app users themselves. Controls can be bypassed by using a VPN, which disguises IP addresses and locations.

Apple and Google have not commented on the new ban.

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  1. Montana Issues Blanket Ban of TikTok – Round Up DFW - […] Dallas ExpressMay 19, 2023Uncategorized […]

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